HRC Asks For Clarification On Sen. Santorum's Call To Allow Discrimination

Welfare Reform Bill Would 'Override' State Laws and Gay Civil Rights

On November 25th, The Human Rights Campaign expressed deep concern over
comments made by Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., in the Washington Post.
Santorum is quoted as saying that he supports a provision that would allow
faith-based groups that receive federal funding for community service
programs to discriminate against gays and lesbians in hiring – even in cases
where local and state non-discrimination laws are already in place. "I will
make that stand," said Santorum.

"Senator Santorum is not only suggesting that the federal government help
fund discrimination against gays and lesbians with tax dollars, but his
support for such a provision would also override state and local
non-discrimination laws across the country," said HRC Political Director
Winnie Stachelberg.

Santorum's comments are in contrast to his remarks last year on faith-based
initiatives legislation, in which he said that he did not want to include a
provision that would pre-empt state and local civil rights laws in
legislation he drafted with Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn. In a letter sent
earlier today, HRC Executive Director Elizabeth Birch asked Santorum to
clarify his views on the issue.

"While we may not see eye to eye on every issue affecting the gay and
lesbian community, we hope that you will remain consistent in your belief
that this federal legislation should not pre-empt state and local civil
rights laws," Birch wrote.

To date, HRC has not opposed religious exemptions for hiring laws, as long
as the groups and organizations are not using federal money. For example,
the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, federal legislation that would
protect gays and lesbians from discrimination in hiring, includes language
from the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that exempts religious organizations and
permits them to favor members of their own religion.

"Generally speaking, Americans are in favor of equality and fair-mindedness.
It is totally inappropriate to consider funding discrimination with public
money," said Stachelberg. "HRC is eager to work with allies in both parties
to support fairness in funding and hiring for all Americans, including the
gay and lesbian community."

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